A lot of people can provide anecdotal evidence of the goodness that is mocha but now there's actual scientific proof that combining cocoa and caffeine offers benefits beyond just tasting great.
For a study published in the journal BMC Nutrition, Ali Boolani and colleagues set out to examine the effects that consuming brewed cocoa had on motivation to do cognitive work, attention, and feelings of fatigue, energy, and anxiety. Their double-blind study lasted almost a year and involved the consumption of cocoa, caffeine without cocoa, cocoa with caffeine, and then a placebo that didn't contain either cocoa or caffeine.
After consuming their assigned warm beverage, the subjects were made to carry out tests for the researchers to assess both their cognitive tasks and mood. For instance, the subjects watched flashing letters across a screen and had to note when Xs appeared after As. They also had to do subtraction and point out the moment odd numbers appeared in a sequence.
Cocoa And Caffeine: The Dream Team
Boolani explained that cocoa increases blood flow in the brain which boosts cognition as well as attention while caffeine increases anxiety when consumed alone. He and his colleagues discovered that adding cocoa to caffeine reduced the latter's anxiety-inducing effects, making the case for drinking mocha lattes.
"The results of the tests are definitely promising and show that cocoa and caffeine are good choices for students and anyone else who needs to improve sustained attention," said Boolani.
The researchers disclosed that the Hershey Company had sponsored the study. This may mean that new or improved products could hit the market as a result of their work.
Boolani shared he'll be following up the study with further research to look into the differences between natural and synthetic caffeine and building upon other cocoa studies.
Other researchers for the study include Patrick O'Connor, Stephen Crozier, Bryan Loy, and Jacob Lindheimer.
Cocoa Health Benefits
According to the Dairy Council of California, cocoa in raw form contains four times the antioxidants of its processed counterpart. This means that the less processed cocoa is, the better it will be for the health. Raw cocoa is commonly available in health food stores. It will be bitter so honey or sugar can be added to give it a sweeter taste.
When looking for cocoa powder, keep the following in mind:
– The darker the chocolate, the higher the antioxidant level.
– The higher the cocoa content, the higher the antioxidant level.
– The lower the sugar level, the better it is for overall health.
Chocolate in general contains antioxidants that are believed to be good for the body as they help fight against free radicals that damage cells. Cocoa specifically has flavonoid content, which some studies have shown to aid in reducing risks of cardiovascular disease by improving the state of blood vessels, reducing bad cholesterol, and easing blood pressure.
Additionally, cocoa can help in keeping cravings for sweets at bay because often just its smell is enough to satisfy. The current study showed adding cocoa to caffeine lowers the latter's anxiety-inducing effects and it may have to do with the over 300 compounds cocoa contains that positively affect the brain's chemistry, such as increasing serotonin and endorphin levels.